Sunday 13, March 2016

Dubai – MENA Herald: Three new international groups comprising experts from leading private businesses, academia, government and the third sector have been launched and met for the first time at the Global Education and Skills Forum 2016 (GESF) in Dubai as they began work on drawing up recommendations on how to address education’s most pressing issues.

The three Varkey Foundation Alliances – the Alliance on Girls’ Education, the Alliance on Teachers and the Alliance on Innovation – held their inaugural meetings at the Forum. The three topics were chosen because of their significance in terms of improving education and global growth.

Each group will comprise of 10-15 luminaries with an interest in their respective issue. After their first meetings at the GESF, each alliance will hold a series of further meetings over the next year to produce actionable recommendations related to their focus area. The recommendations will be contained in a White Paper to be published at GESF 2017 next March. Each alliance will be funded by the Varkey Foundation.

The alliances include prominent individuals from organisations such as UNESCO, Harvard University, Amazon, LEGO Education as well as various government ministers and their representatives. They include Dr. David Edwards, Deputy General Secretary, Education International; Brett Wigdortz, Chief Executive Officer, Teach First, UK; Esteban Bullrich, Minister of Education, Argentina; and Christina Lowery, Managing Director, Girls Rising, USA.

On girls’ education, for example, Unicef estimates that 31 million girls of primary school age and 32 million girls of lower secondary school age were out of school in 2013. This needs to change because educated girls who have been to school have much more power to break the cycle of poverty. Gender equality in education generates a virtuous cycle that benefits future generations.

Vikas Pota, Chief Executive of the Varkey Foundation, said: “The alliances have been created to find real and actionable pathways to solving public education’s longest standing problems. Issues like ensuring girls worldwide have equal access to education, raising the quality of teaching and respect for the teaching profession, and how to best use innovation in education represent three of the biggest educational challenges facing the world today.

“I am delighted that the Varkey Foundation will sponsor these groups that include some of the most distinguished individuals and thought leaders in their fields, whose expertise and blue-sky thinking will, I am sure, lead to a raft of innovative recommendations on how to address these crucial issues”.